Property taxes are one of the hidden costs of owning a home or any kind of real estate. And while property taxes can be a burden for any homeowner, they can especially be challenging for older individuals. As your home’s value increases over time, your property taxes can increase so much that it’s impossible to afford your house.
If you’re struggling to afford your property taxes, there are options. You could get help from your state government, local exemptions, or even organizations. But surprisingly, few homeowners realize these options are available.
To pay your property taxes, the following are options that could lower your tax burden and help you pay less.
Reassess Your Property’s Value
Your property tax total is determined by an assessment. That assessment is the assessed value – or estimated value – of your home and property.
And often, the value that your home is assessed at isn’t what it’s actually worth. If you were to sell your home, you’d likely have it valued at a lower price. And fortunately, you can have this value assessed if your property taxes are too high.
To have your property’s value reassessed, you’ll need to work with a real estate appraiser or agent who’s experienced in market estimates. The assessor will look at your home and similar homes in your neighborhood and city, then determine what homes like yours are selling for. They’ll use that information to estimate your home’s market value, Forbes reports¹.
And reassessing your home’s value can be a huge help. For example, if your home was assessed improperly and extra bedrooms, bathrooms, or space were added that don’t actually exist, you could be paying way too much.
Use a Property Tax Relief Program
If you can’t afford your property taxes, you can work with a property tax relief program to get help.
Property tax relief programs vary from state to state and even from county to county. But these programs can help lower, freeze, or even exempt you from property taxes. In order to find them, you simply need to search for tax relief in your state.
For example, the state of Tennessee offers property tax relief programs in 23 different counties and 30 cities². Property tax freezes, which cap the tax on your home at a certain amount, and property tax relief that lowers or eliminates the tax, can be available for homeowners who meet the necessary qualifications.
Check with your state, city, or county to see what kinds of tax relief programs are available. Each year, you can apply for or join these programs if you meet their qualifications. And doing this could eliminate your property tax entirely – or save you thousands of dollars by lowering your payment.
Look for an Exemption
Did you know some cities, counties, and states offer exemptions for property taxes? An exemption means you are exempt from paying property taxes – meaning you don’t have to worry about this huge costs at all.
Investopedia³ reports that exemptions are available in many different categories across the country. You can get an exemption if you:
- Are a senior citizen.
- Are a veteran or military service member.
- Have certain abilities or disabilities.
- Live on an agriculture property.
To see if you qualify for an exemption, check with your local tax authority or office.
Appeal Your Tax Bill
If you’ve tried lowering your property taxes with other methods but still can’t afford the cost, you have one more option. You can actually appeal your tax amount via a tax appeal. And doing this might help you save thousands of dollars.
As Investopedia⁴ explains, you’ll need to file a tax appeal with a lawyer’s help. Your lawyer will help you gather all the information you need for this appeal, like photos of your home, notes on the condition of your home, or even a new assessment.
Once it’s received by your local tax board, the appeal is reviewed. This can take a few weeks or a few months. And if it’s approved, your assessed value will be lowered – which means your property taxes will decrease too.
And while there’s no guarantee that a tax bill appeal will result in lower property taxes, it’s often a great option if other tax relief methods haven’t worked. A lower assessment could save you money for years to come, and it might more accurately reflect the true value of your home.
Search for Discounts
Lastly, don’t forget to search for discounts on your property tax. While it may not be your first thought, there are ways to get “savings” on your property taxes – you just have to look for them.
According to Forbes, discounts like homestead exemptions, veteran and military savings, and even lowered assessments for senior citizens could be available⁵. You may be able to save on some aspects of managing your property tax, like assessments or tax appeals. Or, you might find that there are property tax relief programs in your area.
In order to find them, you’ll need to search locally and in your home state. You can start your search online, looking for available property tax savings and forms of property tax relief available near you.